MY TELESCOPES

My very first telescope was a 3 inch "Tasco" refractor. As soon as I looked into it and saw the moon and the rings of Saturn and giant Jupiter, I knew I was into this hobby for the long haul. Within months of getting the refractor, which I bought at a garage sale for $20.oo I was looking for something bigger and better. I sent for all the catalogs and did a lot of comparison shopping.  I was pleased with a new company that had just started up, known as Meade Telescopes. They offered an 8" Equatorially mounted Newtonian Reflector at comparatively bargain basement pricing. The kicker was that they would custom make the scope to your specifications.

I went with an 8'' f/7, to give me somewhat of a wide field. Since I was primarily into photography I wanted something wide and more importantly, fast, without safrificing too much focal length. I ordered a 2" focuser with a 2 1/4" oversized elliptical secondary to be sure to capture the entire image on the film plane of a camera. I also went with an oversized finder scope. Later I added a homemade slow motion declinatrion control to the mounting to aid in photography.


Since I lived in the city and had to travel to observation sites and this scope was barely portable, I mounted the scope in the back of my pickup truck in a utulity bed. One of the large utility boxes was converted to a carrying case for the scope while in transit. When I arrived at an observing site, I would park the truck facing due south using a compass. I had welded four hydraulic pistons to each corner of the frame of the truck. Before observing I would use to these cylinders to lift the entire truck off it's suspension system to allow myself and others to use the scope without the truck bed moving as we moved around the truck bed. The sides of the utility boxes were very handy seats, since we usually observed to the east or west, putting the observer at just the right height.

This scope provided me with many years of service. I still have it in the garage in mothballs. If it were to be re-aluminized I could get many more years of service out of it.

        

With Halley's Comet approaching in 1986 I decided to purchase something more "portable, so I did some shopping around and decided that, once again, dolar for dollar, to purchase another Meade Insrument. This time I went with the 2080B LX2. With a declination motor attached, this was the ultimate telescope. The portability, ease of setup and polar alignment and accuracy of the drive was phenomenal. The only thing I disliked was that this scope was an f/10. It was way too slow for my tastes, but again I got many years of faithful service from it. 

Meade's well known 8" model was part of the "2000" line introduced in 1980, and model 2080 became the designation for the basic fork mounted f/10 optical tube. The original 2080 drive consisted of a worm gear system with 180 tooth main gear driven by a synchronous AC motor. This was offered without wedge and tripod but included coated optics, a 6x30 finder, 1 ¼" star diagonal and 25mm eyepiece. This basic telescope was also available as the 2080B having multi-coated optics for better light transmission. In 1984 the company improved the machining on the worm gear drive and introduced the "LX" drive. Later the same year they marketed this telescope with a 8x50 finder and erfle eyepiece, along with the addition of improved coatings on the optical surfaces as the LX2. The appearance both models visually is identical to the standard 2080 except for the "LX" mark.

2080 2080 LX3 Panel

My son & I camped in Saguaro National Monument, near Aho Way, Arizona for Halley's Comet, 1986
The
Setup

20 years later photgraphing
Comet Pojmansky in 2006


In 2006 I bought an Olympus E-500 digital camera to replace my old faithful OM-1 astrocamera which had finally given up on me after 25 years. To my chagrin, when I attached the  digital camera to the scope I realized that digital cameras are not quite the same as  35mm cameras. The field of vision is a lot smaller. I could not capture an image of the full moon using this scope and a digital camera.

Not sure what to do next, lady luck smiled on me. One day I walked into my local camera shop and there on the floor in the corner was a Meade 2080 LX6 at f/6.3. This little bit of reduction in focal length provided enough of a focal length reduction to allow a full  moon to be captured in my digital camera. So, once again I had the capability of capturing eclipses. I took the scope home and ran it through it's paces, only to discover that the drive unit did not work. I contacted Meade's Service group and learned that for a reasonable fee thay would fix the drive for me and while they had the scope in the shop they would also take it apart and clean and aligh the optical system as well.  

 



The next member of the line was introduced in 1988 as the
LX6, which was initially released as an f/6.3 optical assembly on both the 8" and 10" scopes. A microprocessor was added to the electronics in the base which allowed connection of optional electronic setting circles or the Computer Aided Telescope system 'CAT' that was released in the same year. Both allowed slewing the telescope manually to a particular object chosen by the user.

A new hand paddle was added with a display for the above options. The same 9x60 polar finder, 2" mirror star diagonal, wedge, tripod, carrying trunk and eyepieces were carried over fr
om the LX-5 in the initial versions.
2080 LX6 Panel


The Setup in 2006

 
     With the LX6 tuned up and ready to go I mounted a 3" Meade Saturn refractor piggyback style to use for guiding while taking photos.
This did not last long as the view in a 3" refractor just didn't suit my needs and it restriced the overhead movement of the scope.
(And I got tired of banging my head on it.)

So, I moved the refractor forward a bit to eliminate the head banging  and added a Meade ETX90.